Poland shares a 332-mile (535 km) border with Ukraine. Since the Russian invasion began in February 2022, more than 3.5 million people have come across that border to f lee their war-ravaged homeland. And it has been Marta Shaw’s (PhD ’14) mission to help those arriving at her doorstep in Kraków, Poland.
A Polish native with a degree in English philology, Shaw was interested in studying systemic dynamics in education, particularly after attending a public institution during her country’s transition away from communism and later working at a private university. “How do you design systems of higher education that bring out the best in people instead of the worst?” she asks. “I looked at where I could learn about educational policy and it seemed like the U.S. was the best place.”
She enrolled in the comparative and international development education (CIDE) track in CEHD’s Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (OLPD) and received her PhD in 2014. She moved back to Poland with an immediate position at Jagiellonian University, one of the oldest academic institutions in the world, founded in Kraków in 1364.
Most recently, she was the director of a new master’s program in managing social change. “We actually launched it in the pandemic,” she says. “It was a difficult year launching a new program, having all new courses and new faculty. So when the year drew to a close, I was really ready for a sabbatical.”
Three months into the sabbatical, everything changed. Russia invaded Ukraine.